The San Francisco Giants extended their ongoing National League record to ten straight postseason victories, Saturday night, by beating the Washington Nationals, 2-1, in the longest game in postseason history, when Brandon Belt hit an epic, upper deck home run in the top of the eighteenth inning. Continuing the storybook tale, Bruce Bochy then brought in rookie Hunter Strickland to close out the bottom of the eighteenth.
The game was down to the final batter, Joe Panik, in the top of the ninth inning, when Panik drew a walk. Buster Posey followed with a single, Panik stopping at second. Pablo Sandoval then hit the first of two Giants clutch RBI extra base hits, knocking in Panik with the tying run, while Posey was instead gunned down at the plate to close out the inning.
In what was certainly a huge decision in New York, umpires determined upon review, that Posey had indeed been out. I watched the replays along with anyone else, and even though I thought Posey was safe, I could see that the outcome of such a critical play, should be crystal clear to affect the result of a postseason game.
Tim Hudson started for San Francisco and was the Hudson we saw for the first half of the season, pitching seven-and-a-third innings, walking none, giving up seven hits, six of them singles, and keeping his pitches down and mostly away. He threw fifteen pitches in the first inning, when he gave up the first of four singles to Anthony Rendon, but he got out of the inning without damage, and went on to maintain a tight pitch count all the way through seven innings.
Sep 19, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Tim Hudson (17) pitched masrerfully into the eighth, giving the Giants the start they needed. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Watching the bottom drop out of a Hudson sinker, to strike out Cabrera with a runner on in the bottom of the seventh, left no doubt that Hudson was getting better as the game progressed. He left the game after seven-and-a-third, having thrown 85 pitches. He gave the Giants a superior effort and for 26 outs, it looked as though Hudson was about to be saddled with another postseason loss.
He allowed the one run in the third inning, when Rendon hit his second single, knocking in Asdrubal Cabrera, but that was it. He never allowed more than one base runner in any inning but the third, and was removed for Jean Machi in the eighth, who got the dangerous Jayson Werth on a fly ball to Pence in right field. Javier Lopez came in to face Adam LaRoche and struck him out to end the inning.
Sergio Romo (9th), Jeremy Affeldt (10th), Santiago Casilla (11th), Yusmeiro Petit (W, 12th-17th), and Hunter Strickland (S, 18th) performed the extraordinary feat of pitching more than the equivalent of a complete game, without giving up a run. Petit was effective despite walking three runners and he only surrendered one single in his six innings. He got the win and he deserved it, fitting into Bochy’s scheme of things like a violin.
Jordan Zimmermann was nothing short of brilliant, limiting the Giants to three singles and the fateful walk to Joe Panik, and nothing else. He mowed the Giants down with methodical precision, retiring eighteen consecutive batters before Panik drew the walk in the ninth.
Aug 8, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) singles against the Kansas City Royals during the first inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports
After Zimmermann was removed with two out in the ninth, Drew Storen came in and gave up the two hits to Posey and Sandoval, thus leaving Zimmermann with a no-decision. Six Washington relievers kept pace with Giants relievers, until Tanner Roark, normally part of the starting rotation, came in to pitch the eighteenth.
Working the count full, Belt connected in much the same manner that Bryce Harper had done only 24 hours earlier, only the result of Belt’s homer was a lead that the Giants would not relinquish.
Asdrubal Cabrera and Matt Williams were thrown out of the game for arguing a called third strike to Asdrubal in the tenth inning, and that would certainly factor into the game later on, as Cabrera hit one of the two home runs the previous night in the 3-2 loss.
Leadoff batter Denard Span was limited to a walk in seven trips to the plate; Anthony Rendon hit singles his first four times up, but then could not get back on base. Jayson Werth had a single in seven ABs; Adam LaRoche was 0-7; Ian Desmond 1-6 with a walk; Bryce Harper (0-7); Wilson Ramos (1-7); and Asdrubal Cabrera (1-4). The Nationals had eight hits over eighteen innings, and four of them were by Rendon.
It was as dominating a staff pitching duel as you will ever experience. The Giants had the same number of hits as the Nationals, 8, with Posey’s three leading the pack. In a stadium rocked by Washington fans all six hours and twenty-three minutes, it took a lot of moxie to pull out a victory.
The Giants now take a two games to none lead in the best of five series and go back to AT&T Park for the third game, with Madison Bumgarner going for San Francisco. Having been down two games to none themselves in the 2012 playoffs to Cincinnati, the Giants know that the series is not over. Belt said that in the post-game interview.
No, the series is not over until it is over. But the Giants are in pretty good shape for the shape they’re in. They got past Stephen Strasburg and they got past Zimmermann. And they’re going with MadBum.
I like our chances.
Once again, Bruce Bochy was masterful. Photo Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports